The Value of Food

It is a myth that eating healthy costs more money. A healthy, whole food diet is surprisingly inexpensive. Potatoes are cheaper than fries, whole chicken costs less than strips, and I have personally saved a ton of money by switching to oatmeal for breakfast. However, while whole food is generally cheaper than processed, there are qualities for which I am willing to pay a little more.

To avoid the chemical residue of Industrial Agriculture, I am willing to spend more for “organic”. I don’t necessarily seek out “Certified Organic”, as I’m more concerned with principles than certification — I trust my local farmer more than a multinational corporation to understand what I want in my food.

I also value the principle of “Fair Trade”, as I don’t want to save money through the exploitation of other people.

I pay a premium for my meat to be free range or wild. Cramped and overcrowded quarters lead to disease and overuse of antibiotics — not to mention a brutal existence. It is just not ethical to treat animals as part of an industrial food machine, and to buy meat raised this way is to condone the practice. Also, exercise and a varied diet make for healthier animals with more nutritious meat and higher omega 3 fatty acids.

I choose to spend even more money on my food to buy it locally, and I would like to take the rest of this article to explain to you why I am happy to do so.

The most obvious reason for me is that local food is fresher, picked riper, and grown in richer soil — all of which increases micronutrients and nutrition. I am healthier for eating local.

I also believe that buying local increases my food security. The more market gardens that exist in my area, the more sources of food I have to draw on, and the less dependent I become on the ferries, barges, ships, planes, trucks and trains to bring me my food. I become more secure against the rising costs of oil.

I know that small organic farms are better for the environment than giant chemical dependent agribusiness. Expansive monoculture crops are the mortal enemies of biodiversity and thus of nature herself.

The biosphere is in crisis: our current system is causing an accelerating rate of species extinction not seen since the collapse of the dinosaurs. Small organic farms can actually increase the biodiversity of an area and are the necessary future of a sustainable society.

It is imperative we get off this destructive path we are on. Progress is based on the lie of perpetual growth, and that growth is necessary for prosperity. But who prospers under our current system?

It is a moral decision to buy local. It is my activism: I am investing in the revolution and boycotting the machine. With every dollar I spend, I am increasing the prosperity of my local community. I am redistributing a small part of my wealth back into my community rather than having it disappear into the accounts of a multinational corporation.

Money in the farmer’s pocket is also more likely to be spent locally. The process is circular and mutually beneficial. Localization, not globalization, will be the future if we are to escape the bars of the economic hamster wheel on which we are currently running.

So there you have it. I buy local to improve my health and food security; I strengthen my economy and at the same time I am helping the environment. It is good for my body, my community, my environment and my world. It’s the right thing to do.

I think that’s worth paying a little more for.

Chris Semrick, B.Sc, RRT, CRE is a Registered Respiratory Therapist, Certified Respiratory Educator and a Smoking Cessation Counselor.